Clash Of The Iron Maidens

Iron Maiden spent its last night on the Ozzfest tour in grand rock ‘n’ roll fashion – getting into a full-scale beef with tour organizer Sharon Osbourne, being pelted with eggs and having its sound cut during its August 20th set at Hyundai Pavilion At Glen Helen outside of Los Angeles.

Some might argue that it was Osbourne who got into the beef with Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson, but nobody seems to be quibbling over reports that some three dozen eggs mysteriously made it past security, into the front rows of the shed and ultimately onto Dickinson and his bandmates as they started their set.

Or that chants of “Ozzy! Ozzy! Ozzy!” were being pumped over the loudspeakers before, during and after Iron Maiden’s time on stage.

Or that the same public address system mysteriously malfunctioned for several minutes at a time on at least three occasions, resulting in two songs being stopped altogether.

When it was all over, Sharon Osbourne took to the stage and told the audience that Ozzfest organizers “absolutely loved Iron Maiden and their crew and they are all wonderful, but their singer, Bruce Dickinson, was a prick and had disrespected Ozzfest since they began their stint with the tour.”

Whether the animosity was authentic or simple end-of-tour antics, they just don’t do rock ‘n’ roll backstage wars like this anymore.

Iron Maiden manager Ron Smallwood, claimed the events were staged. “In 30 years in this business and after attending hundreds of gigs, I have never seen anything anywhere near as disgusting and unprofessional as what went on that night,” the chairman of Sanctuary Artist Management said.

“The scale, viciousness and concentration of the throwing made it obvious that this was a premeditated and co-ordinated attack. … You should all be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves.”

Smallwood called “the great majority of the Ozzfest crew” terrific and thanked them. He also said “we know” who authorized the “Ozzy” chant and the cutting of power to the stage at what he called “crucial moments.”

“We will have no more to say on this matter except that I do think the band deserve an apology from a number of people, and you know who you are,” Smallwood concluded.

August 25 brought a written rebuttal from Sharon Osbourne, which most certainly did not include an apology. In an open letter to Smallwood, she stated:

“You claim to have been in the business for 30 years and have been to hundreds of gigs, but can you tell me how many times you have heard of an opening band talking sh*t about the headliner during their set and getting away with it? Not only is Ozzy the headliner, but he is also the man who is paying your band $185,000 a night. We gave Iron Maiden a chance to play to the biggest audiences they have ever played to in the U.S.A. We accommodated them with their stage set and at the band’s request we even scoured the audience for people wearing Iron Maiden t-shirts and brought them down front during their set to make them feel more comfortable. Tell me, what other headliner would do that?

“Over the last 10 years of Ozzfest we have worked with over 200 bands. None of them were ever disrespectful to Ozzy or any of the other bands on the tour. But for 20 shows we were forced to hear Dickinson’s nightly outbursts from the stage: When we come back to America, we’ll be back with a proper sound system or We won t be playing the same old songs every night (like Sabbath), We don t need a teleprompter (like Ozzy) and We don t need a reality show to be legit (again, like Ozzy). Night after night we heard his complaints from the stage about how corporate the venues were and how outrageous the ticket prices were. Strangely enough, if you want to get a general admission ticket to stand in a field to see Iron Maiden at Reading this weekend it s going to cost you over $120. I would say that s very pricey, wouldn t you? “It’s shameful that Dickinson felt he had the right to air his issues publicly onstage every night as a way to boost his own ego. Dickinson never once came up to Ozzy and me to voice any concerns. He certainly had the opportunity to do so every night. If he wasn t able to show us that courtesy then why should I give him the respect to air my grievances with him in private? Ozzy s only interaction with Dickinson was on the first night of the tour. Ozzy, being the true gentleman that he is, passed Bruce in the hall and said Good luck and have a great show. Unfortunately Dickinson felt the need to turn his back to Ozzy and walked away. Frankly, Dickinson got what he deserved. We had to listen to his bullsh*t for five straight weeks. He only had to suffer a couple of eggs on the head.

“On closing, yes, I did cut Iron Maiden’s sound. This is the way I look at it: Ozzfest is our tour. We built it into something that s lasted 10 years now. We’ve been responsible for breaking many new bands and resurrecting the careers of former superstars. Part of our success stems from the fact that when a band is on Ozzfest we treat them with nothing but kindness and respect just as if we had invited them into our home. You can ask all of the bands who have been on the tour. They all describe it as the ultimate summer camp. It s like one big family. Unfortunately Dickinson doesn t have the manners to realize that when you are invited into someone’s home, are seated at their dinner table, are eating their food and drinking their wine, you shouldn t talk disrespectfully about them (Ozzy, Black Sabbath and Ozzfest), otherwise you just might get your ass handed to you. Every action has a reaction. Was Dickinson so naïve to think that I was going to let him get away with talking sh*t about my family night after night? I don t think he realizes who he’s dealing with. I will not endure behavior like this from anyone.

“I know you would love to keep talking about this because this is the most press that Iron Maiden has had in the U.S. in twenty years, but let s move on, shall we?


The Real Iron Maiden

Sharon Osbourne”